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The musical was breathtaking.

10 Jun

I might be the happiest teacher on the planet right now.  I’m definitely the happiest teacher in New Mexico right now.

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I might have to give up the race for the planet because of one downer.   One of my students wasn’t able to make it.  That was difficult for me.  I really wanted to give the one ticket to another student, but because they were not expecting to watch for an email (and I don’t have numbers), I couldn’t find a replacement student either.  I sent out emails and requests, but sadly to no avail.

However the two students that could make it, and I, thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience!  I was as close to speechless as I’ve ever been, while meeting the cast.  My brain kept saying, “say something, ask a question, these kids are looking to you as an example of how to conduct yourself in this situation!”  Still I think I only squeaked out two completely lame questions…….  And then just stared dumbfounded, hopefully smiling.  Well probably more than likely smiling from ear to ear, but honestly I couldn’t be sure.

The casts’ voices were strong and powerful.  Even the gentlest songs had a quiet power that moved us to tears.   It was really cool to see that the girls would recognize a song and sit up a little more in their seat, lean forward, and watch the song unfold.  The songs went by faster than I remember them.  In my mind the notes held out longer.  Somehow they seemed to whip past me today.  It was like time traveling, like I was staying in each note while time clipped along at normal speed and then I’d catch up and wonder how the song was done already.   Makes me feel even luckier that I had 6 weeks to give my class this story.

I can’t imagine not wanting to devour this book with full dedication to exploring every sense along the way – to read this story as quickly as possible, to skip parts, is like trying to make 5 course dinner out of a box of mac n’ cheese and can of anchovies.

I digress.

We met Betsy Morgan, who played Fantine, and also went on the backstage tour with us.  We were given a great tour by the stage manager, Heather Chockley.  It is really cool to go back and look at the pictures in the program and say, “yep, we met her, and him, and ….”

Big smiles!

A little name dropping of the cast we got to meet (as I can list a name to a face):  Hannah Shankman (Eponine), Heather Jane Rolff (ensemble), Joe Tokarz (JEAN VAL JEAN!!!), Shawna Hamic (Mme Thenardier), and a couple more…. That physically hurts to write; to not name someone, but try as I might, I can’t recall all the names and the faces in the program do not have their hair up etc., so if I did not name you, and we met you, please know that I am so extraordinarily grateful.  Oh we got to wave at Andrew Varela (Javert), too.   🙂

I was even more speechless as the cast would come and shake my hand and say they were happy to meet me!  I wasn’t expecting that at all!  They were glad to meet me, how cool is that?  Here I was, stupefied into silence by the amazing performance I had just seen and being greeted like I was some kinda big deal.

OK, I’m just going to say it.  I was stunned by the fact that they were normal people.  I’ve been trying not to write that phrase this whole time, but I really just have to.  If it is the one thing that keeps coming to mind, I must write it.  Here I had just seen and heard these incredible performances and now I was looking at the performers, and they could’ve been there for the same tour I was about to take.  They were wonderfully normal people.   I kept thinking, “just invite them to dinner, they’re new in town and might not know where some of the great spots are.”   Hell, I almost asked them to go get a drink tonight.  But that was inappropriate with my students there, so I stopped myself.  I kinda wish I hadn’t though.

I really, really wish I was better at remembering to take pictures.  I remembered to take a couple in the lounge.  We took a couple after the tour and during dinner.  Of course I can’t post most of them, because the students are minors, and that’s against all kinds of rules.  I am just kicking myself that we didn’t get any with the cast.   That would be the shell-shock-ed-ness of the moment, agh.

I’m just so blissfully happy.  One of the girls said, “The musical was breathtaking.”  I completely agree.

Dinner at La Provence.  Delicious.  There are no other words for that.  Crab Cakes, Beef Burguignon, Pasta Provencal.  Highly Recommended.

THANK YOU to Terry Davis, Laura Maness, Victoria Chavez, Billy Tubb, Popejoy Presents, Popejoy Education Department, the amazing people with Les Miserables, the cast and crew, and most especially the incredible, amazing, fantastic students in my 8th grade Language Arts classes that stepped up to the plate, went the whole nine, the real heroes in this whole amazing journey.

People can say I did a great thing by setting high expectations, but if the students hadn’t met the challenge, my expectations would not have been worth anything.

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